The path to success is taught to most from a young age – Getting an education, finding a good job, buying a home, and having a family are all said to be the steps to equal a happy and stable life. Because of this idea, people aren’t typically prepared for what happens when the right path goes wrong. This is the story of Contessa Green, an educated single mother of two, who found herself on the brink of foreclosure and about to lose everything she had.
With a ten year old daughter, and two year old son, Contessa works full time to fill the two parent role. After her son was born his father left the picture, and without the support of a second parent, Contessa felt the financial burden begin to weigh heavily on her life. She was no longer able to save – each paycheck went to childcare, food, transportation and the list goes on. The first month she fell short on her mortgage payment she knew she was in trouble. Each month the bill came she came up shorter and shorter on funds and she fell into a deep depression. The day eventually came when she received a letter stating that her home could be taken from her.
Contessa was determined to take matters into her own hands and began applying for different programs such as Link and CEDA, in an effort to ease some of the financial pains. Shortly after applying, however, she was told she fell just outside of the programs’ qualifications. Her heart sank and she couldn’t see a way to climb out of the hole without legal help; she contacted a lawyer she had heard about on TV and began an even more financially draining journey that ended in disappointment.
“What was I supposed to do?” Contessa wondered. “I went to school, gave back to the community, did everything a good citizen should do and I couldn’t get help from anywhere.”
After months of paying hundreds of dollars she realized the lawyer wasn’t able to help her situation and stopped meeting with the firm.
“[At that point] I made peace with losing my home,” She said solemnly.
Contessa said she knew about the Housing Counseling Agency, Spanish Coalition for Housing (SCH), and their role in the community for utility assistance and housing referrals, but had no idea they could help avoid the loss of her home until her friend mentioned the Illinois Hardest Hit Funds – a program that helps qualifying families earn up to $35,000 in mortgage assistance.
As Contessa sat down with SCH Homeownership Counselor, Nydia Roman, in October 2016, she began to cry. She said Nydia instilled hope in her heart as she explained the process and assured her that she would do everything she could.
“One thing about owning a home is that it means I’m responsible for everything,” Contessa said. “I had put my entire family at risk. I really dropped the ball and needed help, and being able to go into SCH where I wasn’t judged was so refreshing.”
After delivering all the necessary documents to SCH, and after thorough investigation on her past tax records, Nydia was able to provide the proof of reduction of income after reviewing Contessa’s 2014 taxes. With this information, Contessa was approved and officially closed in February 2017.
“I went through every emotion in one setting,” Contessa reflected” “I cried, I couldn’t move, I was laughing, thanking God…I was going through all of this to realize this is my second chance.”
Contessa said she will never let this happen again and that she will take what she learned to her own community, including her children. Her future plans include returning to SCH and encouraging her friends and family to join her to receive further education through the Financial Literacy program.
“You never know when you might need somebody,” Contessa stated matter-of-factly. “I’m glad that I was steadfast and went through the process. If you’re in the same situation, put up a fight because that’s what I put in to the universe and it paid off.”
Spanish Coalition for Housing wants you to know that we have services that can help you and your family. If you’re worried about your financial situation, please visit or call one of our three SCH offices and we will get you started with the right program for you!
1922 N. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60639
1915 S. Blue Island,
Chicago, IL 60608
South Chicago Office:
9010 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617